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f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

April 10, 2007

Quality Assurance Panel proposed for UK barristers

Filed under: lawyer news or ethics — David Giacalone @ 10:27 am

       Quite a few readers balked at the suggestion last month, in my essay on the Graying Bar, that the legal profession consider setting up non-disciplinary procedures to help assure that aging lawyers are providing competent legal services.   An article in today’s London TimesOnline tells of a far broader effort in the UK that is under consideration by Bar Council, the body that represents 14,000 barristers (litigators) in England and Wales.  “Barristers may be graded on quality,” by Frances Gibb, April 10, 2007.  The quality assurance program would cover any barrister, of any age, whose work was “shoddy” or substandard.  According to TimesOnline:

ReportCardg “Incompetent barristers whose courtroom advocacy falls below par will be referred by judges and colleagues to a “remedial” panel to bring them up to scratch, under measures proposed today. The Bar Council is also proposing a grading scheme to grade barristers who do legal aid [publicly funded assigned counsel] work according to proficiency and experience.”

According to Geoffrey Vos, QC, the Bar chairman, “The biggest selling points for the profession are the high quality of service it offers, and the value for money it provides. The Bar Council wishes to ensure that barristers aspire to and achieve excellence, so that the future of the profession is assured.”  Vos stresses that the panel “will act as adviser and helper, rather than as a disciplinary body,” would “not be regulatory in any sense,” and “must not become burdensome or disruptive.”  The Bar chairman says quality assurance:

“It is, however, a necessary part of growing up. We are a big profession now, attracting entrants from all backgrounds.”  [Ed. Note: is that last sentence a bit of class snobbery?]

If a Quality Assurance Panel could operate in a fair-handed manner, and come up with effective remedies (perhaps including ongoing mentoring), I think it would indeed be worth trying.  The law profession constantly tells the public of its high standards and quality services, but it far too often falls short of that promise and of its self-regulatory obligations.  An active QAP could help turn those claims into reality.  I wonder what MyShingle‘s Carolyn Elefant would say. 

umbrella vert  For haiku quality assurance, you can always count on Frogpond, the journal of the Haiku Society of America.  Presented below are selections by three of our Honored Guest Poets from the Winter 2007 edition, Vol. XXX: 1, edited by John Stevenson.   Hilary Tann, Yu Chang and Tom Clausen are all members of the Route 9 Haiku Group from here in Upstate New York.

autumn colors
we paddle closer
to the mountain


water’s edge
she pulls me
into summer
………………………………… by Yu Chang, Frogpond XXX:1 (Winter 2007)


QkeyNs sKeyNs q.s. quickies

  1. For my money/time, the best short compilation of recent items of interest for lawyers on the internet is the pithy (and themeless) Weekly Review from the Barrister Blog. We are, of course, always honored when included on that short list — such as mention this week of the f/k/a posting too sane to be rational?.  In this week’s edition, I learned, for example, that: (a) Bar School numbers may be capped to widen appeal (The Times Online, April 5, 2007) — a somewhat counterintutive plan to make the profession more open to “the best from all backgrounds” by limiting the number of students passing the BVC barrister exam. And, (b) Like American assigned counsel, who often protest the spread of public defender offices, UK’s private “Criminal Bar Association has launched a draft paper on how to maintain its members’ position in the market in a bid to meet the ‘growing threat of unfair competition’ from solicitor higher court advocates.”  Criminal law bar faces up to ‘solicitor threat’, Law Gazette, April 5, 2007.
  2. ProfPointer Chief Judge Kaye told the press yesterday that it is intolerable that NYS judges have gone 8 years without a pay raise.  She hinted at a possible lawsuit to force salary increases.  Would there be conflict of interest issues requiring recusal by every New York judge in such a case?  According to the NYLJ/, Kaye “alluded Monday to the agitation by some dissatisfied judges for work stoppages, slowdowns or recusals,” but she said she would not condone such actions, and that “Whatever response we make to this crisis must above all be in keeping with the dignity and responsibility of our institution and our profession.” “N.Y. Chief Justice Says Judiciary Is Prepared to Sue to Obtain Raises,” April 10, 2007.
  3. David Lat at Above the Law has compiled links to the newest outbreak of debate over laptops in law school classrooms.  This round started with a Washington Post op/ed piece by Prof. David Cole, “Laptops v. Learning.”  (And, see Prawfsblawg discussion and comment.)  I’m trying to stifle myself from commenting on the whining students who blame uninteresting professors for their surfing the web and playing poker during classes.  These are, of course, the same folk who think they have a constitutional right to turn their wehicles into monster rolling media centers while they are behind the wheel.


in our doorway   umbrella vert  
a man reads to me
a bible passage


old friends talk
each holding
car keys

…………………………………….. by Tom Clausen –
Frogpond XXX:1 (Winter 2007)


light wind
a maple armada
leaves the shore


old reservoir
sunshine warms
the dressed stone

…………………………………. by Hilary Tann –
Frogpond XXX:1 (Winter 2007)


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